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We Run the Tides: A Novel

We Run the Tides: A Novel

Автор Vendela Vida

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We Run the Tides: A Novel

Автор Vendela Vida

3/5 (85 оценки)
247 страниц
4 часа
9 февр. 2021 г.



An achingly beautiful story of female friendship, betrayal, and a mysterious disappearance set in the changing landscape of San Francisco 

Teenage Eulabee and her magnetic best friend, Maria Fabiola, own the streets of Sea Cliff, their foggy oceanside San Francisco neighborhood. They know Sea Cliff’s homes and beaches, its hidden corners and eccentric characters—as well as the upscale all-girls’ school they attend. One day, walking to school with friends, they witness a horrible act—or do they? Eulabee and Maria Fabiola vehemently disagree on what happened, and their rupture is followed by Maria Fabiola’s sudden disappearance—a potential kidnapping that shakes the quiet community and threatens to expose unspoken truths.        

Suspenseful and poignant, We Run the Tides is Vendela Vida’s masterful portrait of an inimitable place on the brink of radical transformation. Pre–tech boom San Francisco finds its mirror in the changing lives of the teenage girls at the center of this story of innocence lost, the pain of too much freedom, and the struggle to find one’s authentic self. Told with a gimlet eye and great warmth, We Run the Tides is both a gripping mystery and a tribute to the wonders of youth, in all its beauty and confusion. 

9 февр. 2021 г.

Об авторе

Vendela Vida is the award-winning author of six books, including Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty. Her new novel, We Run the Tides, will be published by Ecco on February 9, 2021. She is a founding editor of The Believer and coeditor of The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers and Confidence, or the Appearance of Confidence, a collection of interviews with musicians. She was a founding board member of 826 Valencia, the San Francisco writing center for youth, and lives in the Bay Area with her family.

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We Run the Tides - Vendela Vida



We are thirteen, almost fourteen, and these streets of Sea Cliff are ours. We walk these streets to our school perched high over the Pacific and we run these streets to the beaches, which are cold, windswept, full of fishermen and freaks. We know these wide streets and how they slope, how they curve toward the shore, and we know their houses. We know the towering brick house where the magician Carter the Great lived; he had a theater inside and his dining-room table rose up through a trapdoor. We know that Paul Kantner from Jefferson Starship lived or maybe still does live in the house with the long swing that hangs above the ocean. We know that the swing was for China, the daughter he had with Grace Slick. China was born the same year we were, and whenever we pass the house we look for China on the swing. We know the imposing salmon-colored house that had a party at which masked robbers appeared; when a female guest wouldn’t relinquish her ring, they cut off her finger. We know where our school tennis instructor lives (dark blue tudor decorated with cobwebs every Halloween), where the school’s dean of admissions lives (white house with black gate)—both are women, both are wives. We know where the doctors and lawyers live, and where the multi-generation San Franciscans live, the kind of people whose family names are associated with mansions and hotels in other parts of the city. And most important, because we are thirteen and attend an all-girls’ school, we know where the boys live.

We know where the tall boy with webbed feet lives. Sometimes we watch Bill Murray movies with him and his friends at his house on Sea View Terrace and marvel at the way the boys can recite all the lines the way we know every word of The Outsiders. We know where the boy lives who breaks my necklace one day by the beach—it’s a silver chain my mother gave me and he pulls it violently and I run from him. We know where the boy lives who comes to my house the day I get a canopy bed and, mistaking it for a bunk bed, climbs up and breaks it. It’s never properly fixed and from then on the four posts tilt west. We suspect this boy and his friends are responsible for writing in the wet cement outside our school, the Spragg School for Girls. Spragg is for girls who like to bragg, the cement says. It’s hard to tell if the words were traced with a finger or a stick, but the imprint is deep. Ha! we say. They don’t even know how to spell brag.

We know where the cute boy whose father is in the Army lives. He just moved to San Francisco and he wears short-sleeve plaid shirts that were the style in the Great Lakes town he came from. We know his father must have a position that’s fairly high up because otherwise why wouldn’t he live in the Presidio where most people in the Army live? We spend little time thinking about Army hierarchy because their haircuts are so sad. We know where the boy with one arm lives, though we don’t know how he lost it. He often plays tennis at the park on 25th Avenue or badminton in the alleyway behind his house, which is the alleyway that leads to my house. Many of the blocks in Sea Cliff have alleyways so the cars can park in the garages in the back, so the cars don’t interfere with the view of the ocean, of the Golden Gate Bridge. Everything in Sea Cliff is about the view of the bridge. It was one of the first neighborhoods in San Francisco to have underground power lines because above-ground power lines would obstruct the view. Everything ugly is hidden.

We know the high school boy who lives next door to me. He comes from a family that was prominent in the Gold Rush—I learned that from my California history textbooks. Photos of his parents frequently appear in the society pages of the Nob Hill Gazette that’s delivered to our doorstep every month, free of charge. The boy is blond and often has a group of his high school friends over to watch football in his living room. From my garden I can see when they’re watching a game. There’s a three-foot gap between the edge of our property and his house and sometimes I leap through his open window and land on the floor of his living room. I am that daring. I am a daring enigma. I fantasize that one of them will invite me to the prom. And then one afternoon one of the boys grabs the waistband of my Guess? jeans. I try to get away, and I run in place for a moment like a cartoon character. The boys all laugh; I’m upset for days. I know that this gesture and their laughter mean they think of me as a little girl and not as a prospective prom date. After that their window is kept closed.

Then there are the Prospero boys, the sons of a doctor, who lived in my house before my family bought it. They are legendary. They are a cautionary tale. When my parents toured the house, the floor of what would become my bedroom was littered with beer bottles and needles. The windows were broken. When I talk to older boys and tell them I live in the Prospero boys’ old house I get attention, and, I imagine, momentary respect. No one can believe what lunatics those boys were. Moms will shake their heads and say how sad it was, those boys, their father being a doctor and all.

The Prospero boys are the reason my parents were able to buy the house for the price they did. It was destroyed by these boys. No one else wanted to think their children would grow up to have parties and use needles and spray-paint obscenities on the walls of their own home. My father has always been able to look past the damaged lives a house has witnessed. That is his secret power. He grew up in a rented third-floor apartment on an alleyway in the Mission and, like many of his friends, had multiple jobs by the time he was fifteen. Newspaper-delivery boy, grocery-store employee, doorman at the Haight Theatre. He tore tickets six nights a week and on his day off he’d go see movies. When he was in middle school he biked all the way to Sea Cliff to go to the beach and he saw the majestic houses and said to his friends, One day I will live in this neighborhood. One day he did. My mother grew up without money, too (she grew up in a large, happy family on a farm in rural Sweden), and together they are a thrifty pair—no meals out at restaurants, no heat turned on unless there’s company, and sometimes no heat even then, just the strong smell of fish. My sister, Svea, who is ten, is the only one in our family who likes fish, but it is served weekly because we are Swedish.

In the front room of my house there are five large windows that look out on the Golden Gate Bridge. On foggy days the bridge is blanketed in white, no trace of it visible. On days like this, my father used to tell me that robbers had stolen the bridge. Don’t worry, Eulabee, he’d say to me, the police are after them—they’ve been working all night. By midmorning when the fog began to burn off, he’d say, Look, they got em! They’re putting the bridge back. It was a story I never tired of, and reinforced two lessons that reigned over my childhood:

Hard work conquers all obstacles.

Good triumphs over evil (which is always lurking).

There are alerts, of course, and warnings, and in Sea Cliff these warnings come in the form of foghorns. First one foghorn, and in the distance, another. The deep bellowing foghorns are the soundtrack to my childhood. When we go to the beaches, which we often do, huddled in sweaters and with mist on our faces, the foghorns are even louder than they are in our houses. They punctuate our confessions, our laughter. We laugh a lot.

When I say we, I sometimes mean the four of us Sea Cliff girls who are in the eighth grade at the Spragg School for Girls. But when I say we, I always mean Maria Fabiola and me. Maria Fabiola is the oldest of three children—the youngest ones are twin boys. She moved to Sea Cliff the year we started kindergarten. Nobody knew much about her family. Sometimes she says she’s part Italian. Other times she says she’s not, why would you think that? Other times she says her grandfather was the prime minister of Italy. Or could have been prime minister. Or she was related to the mayor of Florence or could have been. She has long dark brown hair and light green eyes—even in black and white photos you can see their ethereal color. There are dozens of photos in her home of her and her cousins sitting atop horses, or on the edges of swimming pools surrounded by grass. The photos are taken by professionals and displayed in identical silver frames.

Maria Fabiola is a noticer, but also a laugher. She has a laugh that starts in her chest and comes out like a flute. She is known for her laugh because it’s what people call a contagious laugh, but it’s not contagious in the usual way. Hers is a laugh that makes you laugh because you don’t want her to laugh alone. And she’s beautiful. An older boy wearing corduroy OP shorts near Kezar Stadium once said she was hot and with any other girl we would call bullshit but with her we believe it—the compliment, the boy, the corduroy OP shorts.

She wears a thick stack of thin silver bracelets on her arm. We all wear these bracelets, which we buy on Haight Street (three for a dollar) or on Clement Street (five for a dollar) but she wears more of them. When she laughs her hair falls in front of her face and she sweeps it out of her eyes with her fingers, causing her bracelets to cascade up and down her arm. The sound of her bracelets is like her laughter: high-pitched and delicate, a waterfall of notes. She has perfect hair and always will.

When we were in kindergarten Maria Fabiola and I began walking to school together with older girls who went to Spragg. These girls would pick up Maria Fabiola at her house at the top of China Beach and wind their way up El Camino del Mar and collect me. Together, we’d walk the wide, well-paved street to pick up another girl who lives in the house that looks like a castle (it has a turret) and then continue to school. The older girls passed down their knowledge of houses to us, and we combine this with the information we have from our parents. When we become the older girls at Spragg, we teach the younger girls about the houses, about who lives where, about which gardeners are pervy. From grades kindergarten until fourth we wear plaid green jumpers over white blouses with Peter Pan collars. In fifth grade through eighth grade we wear pleated blue skirts that stop right above the knee, and white sailor middies. It is the see-through white middies that provoke the gardeners’ comments. You are not so little anymore, they say, staring at our chests.

When we are thirteen Maria Fabiola and I walk with two other girls: Julia and Faith. Julia used to live a few houses up the street from me, in a home that looked like it could fall into the ocean. Her mom is a retired professional ice-skater with a wall of medals so Julia skates, too. Julia has shoulder-length light brown hair that shines blond in the sun and has blue eyes that she insists on calling cobalt. She briefly dated a boy from Pacific Heights until one night on the phone she asked him what color her eyes were and he said blue, and he was done for. Julia’s half sister, Gentle, is seventeen. She’s the daughter of Julia’s father and his first wife, who was a hippie. Then Julia’s father made money and the first wife couldn’t stand the hypocrisy, so she left him and Gentle and moved to India. That’s when Gentle’s father married the ice-skater.

It’s hard for Julia to have a half sister like Gentle. Gentle used to attend the Spragg School for Girls until she got kicked out. She goes to Grant, the public high school, which makes her one of the only people we know who goes there. The kids who go to Grant look huge and their coats are enormous. They give the finger to cops and even firemen. She used to babysit for me and Svea sometimes until my parents found out that one night, when I was eleven and she was fifteen, she taught me how to smoke.

Gentle has long tangled mouse-brown hair and wears bell-bottoms. She used to have hippie friends but now we usually see her alone. She’s often drunk, stoned, on acid. Once we were at the playground by the golf course next to Spragg and we saw a crowd gathering and laughing at something. Julia, Maria Fabiola, and I went to see what it was and there was Gentle, naked and swinging from the monkey bars. Julia was furious. She ran home to tell her mom and didn’t come to school the next day.

After a business scandal that was on the front page of the Chronicle, Julia’s family had to move to a small house on the other side of California Street, beyond the border of Sea Cliff. They said they were only living there while doing construction on their main house, but I haven’t seen any workers at their old house and I overheard my father tell my mother that he read in a real-estate report that it had been sold. Now they have no view of the ocean. Now they use their garage for a spare room and park their cars on the street. Between the scandal and having to move, we all feel bad for Julia, but we mostly feel bad for her because nobody would want a half sister like Gentle. My mom says she respects Julia’s mom because it must be incredibly challenging to be a stepmother to such a lost girl. All the music Gentle likes is about drugs. Or the bands do drugs, or look like they do drugs. Everything about Gentle is grubby and unwashed but this is the eighties and the eighties are clean, and the colors are bright and separated.

Then there’s Faith. She’s one of us. Faith moved to San Francisco last year in seventh grade, and lives in a house that extends an entire block on Sea View. She has long red hair that on some days makes her look like Anne of Green Gables, and on other days like Pippi Longstocking. She plays goalie on the soccer team and is always diving for the ball, her hair streaming behind her like a flag. She has this air about her like she knows she’s special, and maybe it’s because she resembles famous literary characters or maybe it’s because she’s adopted. Her father is a lot younger than her mother. They had a daughter but she died and so they adopted Faith to replace her. The dead daughter’s name was Faith, too, which I think is strange and Julia thinks is horrendous because her favorite word is horrendous. But Faith doesn’t mind that she was named after the dead daughter. In fact, sometimes she says she feels like she’s twenty because the original Faith lived to be seven and Faith is now thirteen. I don’t know what Faith’s mom was like before the original Faith died, but she now acts like life is a large broken car she’s pushing down the road. She walks diagonally, as though she’s making her way through a rainstorm, even on the fairest of days.

The four of us—Maria Fabiola, Faith, Julia, and I—own these streets of Sea Cliff, but it’s Maria Fabiola and I who know the beaches the best. Maybe it’s because our houses are closest to the shore. Her house is situated above China Beach and mine is just up the street—a four-minute walk.

We take the boys from Sea View to the beach and under their gaze we see how agile we are. We can feel our power as we race on all fours over the cliffs—we know their crevices and footholds, their smooth inclines and their rugged patches. If there were an Olympic category for climbing these cliffs, we would enter it; we scale them as though we are in training. After an afternoon at the beach, the pads of our fingers are rough, and our palms smell of damp rock, and the boys are dazzled.

China Beach is adjacent to a bigger beach, Baker Beach, and they’re separated by a promontory, but Maria Fabiola and I know how to traverse between the two beaches at low tide. We know how to read the ocean, how to navigate the slippery rocks so that if we time it perfectly we can wait until the ocean starts to inhale its waves and, through a combination of climbing and scurrying, make our way to Baker Beach. Once, on a class outing to China Beach, we knew the tide was right to make a mad dash around the bluff and end up at Baker. Other classmates followed us. When our teachers yelled for us to come back, Maria Fabiola and I timed the waves and ran. Our classmates didn’t know the beach the way we did, hesitated, and got stuck on the other side. The teachers panicked. We assured them it would be okay. We climbed over the bluff and held our classmates’ hands, watched the ocean, and guided our classmates back to China Beach. We tried to remain humble but we were heroes.


Maria Fabiola and I have been best friends since we were in kindergarten at Spragg, and we have been placed in different homerooms almost every year. Separately we are good girls. We behave. Together,

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85 оценки / 12 Обзоры
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  • (4/5)
    ~mild spoilers~ I grew up in a similar set of circumstances to what's laid out in this novel, though in a very different time and place, and I think this book brilliantly captures girls-school drama, sort of like a San Franciscan "My Brilliant Friend (the Compulsive Liar)". I think many readers will have known a girl with at least a touch of the Maria Fabiola about her and will feel the immense relief I did at remembering that you never have to be a teenager again. For fans of the "where are they now?" at the ends of movies, I also really liked the epilogue - it provided a closure re: the inevitability of why Maria did what she did. Overall a solid book and I'm looking forward to reading more by this author!
  • (2/5)
    I went into it wanting to like it, even though comments from the other members of the committee made me a little dubious. Not far in, I was in strong dislike with most of the supporting characters other than Eulabee's mother. It read like a bad CW-style teen drama, and I sort of wanted some sort of responsible adult to notice all the crap going on and to intervene. Sadly, there were no responsible adults anywhere (except Eulabee's mom, maybe her dad). By halfway through, I was in strong dislike of ALL the characters, including Eulabee (well, except for her mother, but I have no idea where the hell she was when everything was raining chaos, or how she didn't notice any of it, so maybe she doesn't get a pass after all). Everyone in this book is at least a little psychotic (and I mean that in the literal medical sense, not as hyperbole), and I can't decide whether the author realized that or not.Huge brickwall modulation (musical term, go with it) near the end, when out of nowhere, it was as if the author said, "Eh, I'm tired of this. Let's fast forward over the consequences of her actions; we'll just mention them obliquely in passing." I get that she wanted to get to the 80's freeze-frame closing epilogue, but huh?I may be being generous with the extra half-star. At least it had well-written dialogue.
  • (3/5)
    Found this on Hoopla after seeing it on the ToB longlist.It's the 1980s. Eulabee lives in the Sea Cliff neighborhood of SF and goes to an exclusive girls' high school. This story chronicles some typical 80s high school experiences: as the daughter of an immigrant (her mother is from Sweden), friendships gone sour, boys, the neighborhood. And three missing girls, one of whom is Eulabee, though she was surprised to find she was "missing". And then, 30 years later, as she returns to SF with her husband and son, and begins meeting with some of her long-ago friends.I enjoyed this, but honestly I don't think I'll remember this book in 6 months. And if I did not live in the Bay Area in the 80s--and yes, if I hadn't gone to the Fillmore in the 80s--I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this much at all.
  • (5/5)
    Vida captures the uncertainty and angst of being an teenage girl on the outskirts of the in crowd.
  • (3/5)
    Dunno. It just felt like...not enough. Like it was really close, almost there, but ultimately dissatisfying. This is tragic to me because her earlier novel, Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name, is a stunning masterpiece.
  • (4/5)
    It’s the middle of the 80s and San Francisco hasn’t turned into the tech/IT hotspot it is today. Teenager Eulabee grows up in a more well-off part close to the beach and attends an expensive all-girls school with her best friends Maria Fabiola. The girls are still somewhere between being kids and becoming visibly female and with this transformation also come the problems. Maria Fabiola is the first to attract attention from the opposite sex, but her radiant appearance also charms women which is why she gets away with almost everything. Eulabee is far from being that self-confident and therefore sticks to the truth what leads to her being excluded from the girl circles of her school. When Maria Fabiola vanishes, the whole community is alarmed, but Eulabee from the start does not believe in a kidnapping, she has known Maria Fabiola for too long and is well aware of her former friend’s greed for attention.Vendela Vida still isn’t as renowned as her husband Dave Eggers even though she has published several books by now and has won the Kate Chopin Award. I found her last novel “The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty” quite exceptional in the choice of perspective and therefore was eager to read her latest novel “We Run the Tides”. This time, she goes back in time and has chosen teenage girls as protagonists. The story is told from Eulabee’s perspective and captures well the mixed emotions a girl goes through when becoming a woman. Also the ambiance of the 1980s is convincingly depicted.The most central aspect of the novel is surely the friendship between Eulabee and Maria Fabiola and its shift when one of the girls develops a bit quicker than the other. Maria Fabiola is well aware of the effect she has on other people and uses this for her own advantage. Eulabee, in contrast, is still much more a girl, insecure in how to behave and what to do about the situation. She does not fight but accept what’s happening. Her first attempts of approaching boys seem to be successful but end up in total disappointment. She is a close observer and can well interpret the relationships she sees, between her parents, her mother and her sister and also the other girls and teachers at her school. Without any doubt she is a likeable character and treated highly unfairly. But that’s how kids behave at times.I liked how the plot developed and how the vanishing of the girls turned out quite unexpectedly. Yet, I didn’t fully understand why the author has chosen to add another chapter set in the present. For me, the story was perfectly told at a certain point and admittedly, neither was I really interested in Eulabee’s later life nor in another encounter of the two women as grown-ups. Still, I do not really know what to make of Maria Fabiola when they meet for the first time decades later. To sum up, wonderfully narrated, a great coming-of-age story with a strong protagonist.
  • (5/5)
    Ah, the miseries of adolescence and mean girls, even in most affluent Sea Cliff, a beachside suburb of San Francisco. Eulabee,14, is in thrall to the fabulous Maria Fabiola, her gorgeous and powerful bestie and leader of a band of judgmental private school girls. Of course, there are big problems (murders, suicides, kidnapping, a near-rape) behind most of the mansion doors, and Eulabee is a most keen observer, striving to stay sane when her posse exiles her due to a fabrication by Maria. The everyday adventures in this insular world are beautifully observed, as are the interactions with parents and teachers. The novel is as relevant to its time (mid-1980s) as was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Wrinkle in Time, and The World of Henry Orient to theirs and should be considered for immediate classic status.
  • (4/5)
    Took me right back to eighth grade, which I vividly remember. When this book first started I thought Eulabee, and I love the and, seemed younger than she was supposed to be. As the book went on though, and due to some fairly serious situations, she grew. This book was spot on in highlighting the dramas, the angst of these early teen years, peer pressure and how standing for the truth may alienate you from your friends. One day you're in, the next you're out. Experimentation, lack of confidence, wanting to belong to something, someone. Oh yes, I remember though no ones memories,experiences are the same.Bet we all know a Maria too, the girl who developed before the others, the one at which the boys stared. Excuded self-confidence, a major drama queen always craving attention. The time period of the eighties was spot on too, with swatch watches, clearasil, shoulder pads. For me, this was an easy coming of age story in which to relate. Loved that at the ending the author catches us up on the girls, fifty years old now, some changed, some not. Oh yes, eighth grade was a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to go back. Been there, done that!ARC from Edelweiss.
  • (5/5)
    Clever, witty, subtle humor. A very intelligent author.
  • (4/5)
    Set in a wealthy San Francisco neighborhood in the 1980’s, the story of private school friends takes us into the minds of schoolgirls where the world centers around them. When the friends start disappearing, Eulabee tries to figure out what happen. The story is light up until a classic white car shows up in the neighborhood. The mystery is never solved. In 2019 a chance meeting sheds new light on what could have happened forty years ago. It’s the story of a dissolving friendship that begins when Eulabee says she didn’t see the man in the white car fondling himself as her three friend scontend happen. Labeled both a traitor and a slut, Eulabee feels isolated and even more so she wants to figure out what happened. This is a quick and engaging story.
  • (5/5)
    I was glued to this book from the moment I picked it up. The main character, Eulabee, was very easy for me to like (and, at times, feel so very sorry for). I wanted to like her best friend, Maria Fabiola, but a part of me couldn't bring myself to do it. The two were like night and day but also had some strong similarities. Theirs was a volatile relationship from the start, even though it might not have been so obvious. I felt as though I couldn't read this fast enough, as I hurriedly turned the pages to find out what was going to happen next. There's a few adult scenarios scattered throughout this book, so I think it's more geared towards adults. All in all, this was a great book and I hope to read more from the author.
  • (4/5)
    It's 1984 and Eulabee lives in a high priced neighborhood in San Francisco. She's 13 years old and goes to a private school with her best friends - Julia and Faith and her very best friend Maria Fabiola. Maria is very popular and the girl that everyone wants to be friends with and Eulabee is thrilled to be her best friend. Until...one day on their walk to school, the girls see a man in a car and Maria says that she saw him doing something bad. The other two girls agree with her and claimed that they saw the same thing and when Eulabee refuses to back up her story, the friendship is over. It's not just over but the three girls, led by Maria, turn the girls at the school against her and Eulabee, once a popular girl becomes an outcast. Despite the pain of being an outcast, she remains true to herself and refuses to lie for her friend.This is a beautiful coming of age story set in San Francisco before the tech bubble took over the town. Life is simple and free and teenagers are filled with conflicting emotions. I loved the way the story ended in 2019 so that we were able to find out how the four friends were doing.This book was unlike most books that I've read. Yes, there was some action but the plot was simple and free and it made me smile as it brought back memories of being a teenager - both the good and the bad. I plan to check out this author's earlier book because I enjoyed this one so much.